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A Litany '3rd version'

First line:
Drop, drop, slow tears
author of text

Phineas Fletcher, whose poem ‘Drop, drop slow tears’ has been set to music by many composers from Orlando Gibbons to Kenneth Leighton, entered King’s College, Cambridge in 1600. He graduated BA in 1604 and MA in 1608, and was ordained at some point before 1611, when he became a fellow of the College. His pastoral drama, Sicelides, was written to be performed before James I when the king visited Cambridge in 1615. In the event, the royal party left Cambridge before its premiere at King’s.

William Walton, originally from Oldham, arrived in Oxford at the age of nine to take up a choristership at Christ Church. There he was trained by the Organist, Henry Ley. To avoid having to return to Oldham when his voice broke, Walton decided to ‘make himself interesting’ by writing music. Parry, whilst in Oxford examining, saw some of the boy’s compositions; he told the Dean ‘There’s a lot in this chap. You must keep your eye on him’. Walton’s setting of Fletcher’s ‘Drop, drop slow tears’ may well have been among these manuscripts, since he was 15 when he wrote it. The piece shows a precocious assurance in the part writing and there are harmonic touches that are later echoed in Psalm 137 from Belshazzar’s Feast. This is not surprising, because the version that is performed today is actually Walton’s revision dating from 1930, when he was engaged on his large-scale masterpiece.

from notes by Emma Cleobury © 2019


Evensong Live 2019
Studio Master: KGS0038-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Walton: Coronation Te Deum & other choral works


Track 20 on CDA67330 [3'03]
Track 9 on KGS0038-D [2'48] Download only

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